Thought one: I don't know if I expected Barb to have some tricky tricks or clever solutions or fancy systems up her sleeve for her beautiful life and pleasant home, but in fact, it seems that Barb's magic is just faithfully keeping house all the time. "Just do it" as a homemaking method is not very enticing and won't sell magazines, but it's extremely effective. (But I also wonder if Barb's skills and habits are so deeply ingrained that neither she nor I could tease out and articulate what is really going on day in and day out. I wonder.)
Thought two: I have a stereotype of women Barb's age who see the homemaking I'm doing and say, "oh, I used to do that. . . " It's almost as if retirement finally gives them permission to take shortcuts and buy solutions or hire help in every area of homemaking. Was homemaking just a phase, a season of life? Barb isn't doing that. She's pretty much carrying on the way she always did, which makes sense to me (please know that I take shortcuts sometimes!). But what I want to know is what makes a homemaker slack off anyway? What kind of homemaker will I be when I'm retired? I wonder.
I honestly think that, aside from health or very major life issues, the only thing which would make a homemaker slack off permanently would be attitude. If she didn't do the work with the proper attitude towards it all those years, eventually she'd give it up. If she never understood it as valuable, she would let it go at some point. You can do a thing a long time out of duty, or because that's what you were taught, but it might not be enough to carry you through it till the (bitter?) end. :)
What Lisa said - I do think attitude is part of it, but I also think some of it is adapting to life changes. I have a dear friend in her late 70's who will say "I used to do that" - not because she's given up housekeeping, but because her household is now just her. There's a lot of chores that no longer need doing or have been downsized (like her garden). Housekeeping, as we know it with children, is different from housekeeping without them.
My daughter goes to camp for three weeks every summer and there is a definite change to my habits during that time. I tell my husband it's a preview to what our life will be like when she goes off to college, although he doesn't entirely buy it. Still, it will be interesting to see how things shift when that happens- certain chores, like getting dinner on the table at a certain hour - will lose some immediacy.
In my family, once my brothers and I were out of the house and our parents were a household of two, things definitely changed. There was no longer the need for a schedule to make sure that kids were fed, floors swept, etc. Then, when my dad retired, it changed again. At that point, my dad told my mom that he would take over the household chores because she should get to retire too. As you can imagine, the house became a lot dustier! Otherwise, my mom showed him how to work the washing machine and various other appliances and let him have at it. The only thing she insisted on doing herself was keeping the bathroom clean.
On the other hand, one of my girlhood best friends was Swiss, and her mom never stopped being the perfect homemaker.
About point two: I have often pondered this very thing. I have no answers, just lots of wondering. I'd love to discuss it with you more fully....!
I have wondered, Thrift at Home, what is your motivator? Often for me, I am drawn into homemaking by creating structure and healthy habits/discipline for my family. I notice that I feel better by cleaning surfaces and straightening up. So it's a spiritual practice, per se. Anne Lammot talks about this...in cleaning surfaces, making the bed, we clean our souls, remake ourselves. Thrift at Home, I am not as regimented as you....Practicing and relationships come first. My spiritual director has said, "May you have a dusty home...." Thoughts?
Regarding thought 1: I became a full time housewife 12 years ago, and have been married for almost 20. So, I've been keeping house for almost 20 years. In my own home, I know what works, and often what works in one home doesn't work in another, and routine is often changing, especially with little ones around. I have 2 children -- both boys: 11 years old and 18 months old). I think, though, that the basics become ingrained and if followed faithfully, will keep a home running smoothly, especially if your idea of running smoothly changes as necessary regarding the situation.
Regarding thought 2: I truly love keeping a home and love spending my days doing domestic things, albeit it I often do things shoddily with my toddler underfoot, and sometimes I dream of the day when I can just quietly wash dishes without having to avert a disaster, but the thought of keeping up this pace into my 60's and 70's kind of makes me tired. I know for me personally, that even though I love this work very much, my body will tire and I will need help or will have to slow down, but my heart will still be in it. So maybe that is why some women kind of slow down in retirement -- health, situation.
Also, some women may just not enjoy homemaking. I can honestly say that if I didn't enjoy this "line of work," I'd be dreaming of the day when I could get the early bird specials and hire a cleaning lady!
dear ones, thank you so much for your thoughts and stories. I am just popping in to say that I hear you and I'm pondering. . . especially you, Christy, I'm thinking.
I deleted my comment above because I thought I sounded snarky. Jenny you have it exactly right. I do love keeping my home but cannot do it all anymore.
I used to be a reasonable housekeeper, especially when the kids were very small. Things took a nosedive when our daughter became quite ill for several years as a teenager, then my dad has his stroke and I became the one who visited him at the nursing home, looked after his wardrobe, finances, gift-giving, etc. I just got too tired to do everything. Even as a child I was not high-energy, and so much family care just seemed to wear me out. Then there's the wear and tear on my body that comes with being sixty years old. And I work part-time, so that takes up part of every day. I think my priorities have simply shifted - or have been shifted against my will. If I was home all day, every day, I think I'd have more energy for the things I enjoy - baking, cleaning, even ironing (I haven't actually ironed in ages) :)
Your insights are lovely, and I think it's really neat that you took the time to go and "interview" Barb.
Along the lines of "just do it"... I have been telling myself "don't be lazy,"
especially at the end of the day when I have little things to finish up. I think back to when I was a nurse and how I would wrap up my shift. No matter how tired I was I would finish strong because it was a paid job. I try to apply the same logic to homemaking and the rewards are great when I - just do it.
Sarah, fascinating comparison between a nursing (or any) shift and our work at home. I do like that idea of finishing the tasks, thinking of a checklist and all. . . but man, I think it's hard for a homemaker to know where the list ends. That takes maturity and discipline to do enough ("don't be lazy!") but not keep going obsession and perfection/driving yourself crazy. Because we all know that the work at home never really ends! Hmmmm. Maybe a post on end-of-day routines?
I'm at a similar life stage as jenni_o. Empty nest, a weighty job, several years of back issues, and naturally low energy, plus the haunting feeling that it's never as good as it should be. Being raised by a perfectionist who loved homemaking and guarded her privileges closely, I learned what perfect looked like, and have never been able to achieve it. I know that I was able to create a home with reasonable order in which my family felt nurtured and welcome, but housekeeping still has the power to make me feel like failure. I wanted so badly for it to be both beautiful (which it is in its own way) and properly kept, which it never will be. So while I enjoy some of the household tasks, I would love to have a fairy godmother who would whisk in and perfect it every week.
Post a Comment